With news that former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas suffered from CTE extensively before his untimely death, Dez Bryant took to Instagram to express frustrations with the league’s handling of the epidemic affecting a startling amount of players.
CTE – or chronic traumatic encephalopathy – plagues NFL players, past and present. However, the disease is undiagnosable in living patients. It’s a matter of controlling symptoms through educated guesses, but it’s a fallible process. Repetitive traumatic collisions resulting in concussions causes the disease. Unfortunately, regardless of measures taken by the league, football encourages the hard contact on a regular basis.
Whether it’s former players bashing the less-impactful hits of today’s game, or rules attempting to mitigate head-to-head blows, it’s impossible to rid the game of the dangers of contact. But the NFL historically struggles in correlating CTE to playing careers. There’s a small acknowledgement, and efforts to bring better safety measures to the game.
But a posthumous diagnosis of the disease in the 33-year-old Thomas’ brain tells a different story.
Dez Bryant – who never played on the same team as Thomas, but entered the league together in 2010 – reveals on social media his personal struggles, also claiming to know players “scared to speak”.
It’s an unnerving reality of the league today. While it’s hard to make the implication that the league doesn’t care about the players, deaths like Thomas, or Junior Seau and Dave Duerson shine a nasty light on the post-football life for aggressive athletes.
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According to close friends and relatives, the wide receiver’s behavior radically changed toward the end of his life. The 33-year-old also suffered from debilitating headaches during his playing career. But without the medical capability to properly diagnose the disease in a living person, treatment is scarce.
In addition to the traumas brought on by the contact sport, a car wreck in 2019 added dramatic seizures to the fold. While not a symptom of CTE, the seizures with the headaches would cause neurological suffering. Upon the tragic passing of Thomas last December, a relative shared the belief that a seizure ultimately caused his death.